3 transfer portal focuses for the Illinois basketball team

The NCAA tournament is about to tip off in the next couple of days, but while that is going on, the craziness of the transfer portal has opened up.
Mar 17, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini  head coach  Brad Underwood celebrates
Mar 17, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood celebrates / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
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Focus #3: Get a stretch No. 4 or 5

I’ve touched on two areas I want Brad Underwood and the Illinois basketball coaching staff to focus on in the first two slides. Getting shooters and a nice athletic wing will help round out an already talented roster.

There is one more area that I want to focus on, though. Coleman Hawkins is going to be departing after the 2023-24 season. His abilities on the court are unique, as he can do it all at the size of 6-foot-10. Hawkins can play in the paint, but he can also step out and shoot from three-point range.

I want Illinois to go into the transfer portal and find another player similar to that of Hawkins. I know we can’t find a Hawkins in the portal, but I want someone who has great size like 6-foot-10, and that player can stretch the floor.

Illinois is going into next season with a great stable of big men. Amani Hansberry is coming back, and he has shown promise as a freshman. Dain Dainja is eligible to return to the roster. He has proven to be a great asset in the paint. Illinois also has Morez Johnson Jr. coming into the program. He is a top 30 player in the class of 2024.

Those three big men are going to eat up all of the minutes at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots, but one thing that they all have in common is that they aren’t players who will stretch the floor. With these players, Illinois can’t pull the opposing big man out to the three-point arc because they are true three-point threats. That is going to clog the lane for the Illini guards who are driving the basketball.

I would like for the Illini to go into the transfer portal and pull out someone like a Bill Cole, Tyler Griffey, or Michael Finke. These players had good size, but they could stretch the floor with some type of three-point ability. I don’t want this player to be a starter because we already have starting talent, but this player would come in and give us 15 minutes each game and throw a wrench in the opposing defense’s plans.